Cuba releases leading dissident from prison

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Óscar Elías Biscet

The Cuban government released one of the country's leading dissidents, Óscar Elías Biscet. from prison on Friday, under an agreement attained through talks supported by Spain and reached last July between Cuba's president Raul Castro and Cuba's Catholic Church to free 52 political prisoners. Biscet, 49, was sentenced to a 25-year prison term in 2003 for "acts against the sovereignty and independence of the national territory".

The original deadline for the release was November 7, and the 40 who were released by that date agreed to exile in Spain. Biscet and 11 others refused to leave Cuba and were not freed by the deadline. Biscet stated, "I’ve always lived in Cuba and I’m from Cuba. I haven’t done anything bad to anyone. I’ve always given love, a lot of love, and for giving love they came down hard on me, especially the government".

A follower of the peacefully resistant philosophies of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Biscet's nonviolent fight for human rights and his persistent opposition to the Cuban government have won him worldwide prominence. He has worked to oppose abortion and the death penalty and campaigned to free Cuban political prisoners. In 2007 President George W. Bush bestowed upon him the Medal of Freedom, American's highest civilian honor, in recognition of his work.

Biscet was escorted by security agents to his home in Havana. He told reports gathered there, "It goes without saying that I will continue in the opposition because even in jail I did not give up my questioning attitude toward this government and the abuses it commits."